Nothing Can Steal Our Joy

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I hope that you all had a blessed celebration of Christmas and that 2013 will be filled with many blessings for you and your families.

Last night after I returned from the weekly Prayer Meeting, I sat down to try and catch up on the news. The television was tuned into King 5 and the show Law & Order was on. A man dressed in a Roman Collar sat upon a table and was being interrogated by a police officer. Sure enough, it was a Roman Catholic priest and the police officer immediately began questioning the seal of confession and saying all kinds of negative things about it. When the show revealed that one of the priests fathered a child within his parish, I located the remote control and turned it off.

I don't know about you, but I am getting pretty sick and tired of the anti-Catholic bias so present in the media today. I stopped taking the Seattle Times several years ago because of it's blatant bias against Catholics.

God works quietly behind the scenes with men and women who acknowledge their poverty and recognize their need for a savior. The world of the Holy Family was not free from the forces of evil and the reality of slander. They had to flee into Egypt and many people spoke poorly about Jesus, even saying he was out of his mind (cf. Mark 3:21, John 10:20). Some of these people were his relatives!

A follower of Christ shares in the same experience. Jesus warned us that we would be mistreated and subject to hate and persecution. We should expect no less.

When I woke up this morning and thought about the Prayer Meeting (which was very powerful and moving) and the show on television, the Lord reminded me that in spite of people's efforts to ridicule and demean the Church, I have the privilege of watching the Lord through the Sacrament of Reconciliation breathe new life into people who were questioning God's love and mercy. Hollywood can say whatever it wants but the truth is people are getting set free and unbound and experiencing true freedom. The Lord never denies or turns away a humble and contrite heart. This is incredibly Good News, and while I won't ever have the audience that television has, I want to use this column to give thanks to God for the gift of Reconciliation and all of the ways He supports and strengthens us in our Church today.

If we are truly following Jesus and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us, we will be ready at all times to give an account for the hope that is within us (cf. 1 Peter 3:15). Rather than seek to defend ourselves we become much more interested in proclaiming the wonderful things that God is doing. And we can talk about it personally because it is truly something we experience.

Hopefully, during this Year of Faith, we will all deepen our love and appreciation for the Lord's kindness and mercy. Other people can mock and ridicule us, and I expect even more of that in the future. No one can take away the joy bestowed on an open and contrite heart that seeks deep conversion. Once this happens we spend more time telling people about God's goodness and we avoid getting drawn into the current of negativity and put-downs so prevalent in our world today.

I hope you have a tremendous sense of gratitude for the Lord's goodness to you and that this year will be filled with many occasions to reach out to others with love and respect and help them befriend and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. He has the power to make all things new and to make life here on earth a totally different experience.

God's Blessing to everyone in the upcoming year!

In Christ,
Fr. Jim Northrop

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